The Miami vs LSU opener in Arlington, Texas is a huge game for both programs.
After a turbulent offseason, a win over the Canes would give a very young LSU team some traction, as they wade thru the school’s most challenging football schedule since 2011.
In Miami, the Hurricanes are being billed as contenders for the Atlantic Coast Conference championship.
The Miami Herald says this is one of the biggest openers in the history of the football program.
Openers can be very revealing. In 2011, in Arlington, LSU totally outclassed Oregon. The Tigers, brimming with confidence, and led by a rock ribbed defense were on their way to a perfect regular season.
Five years later, a two point loss to Wisconsin at Lambeau Field in Green Bay changed Les Miles’ seat from hot to scalding. By the end of September, Miles was out as LSU football coach.
After months of offseason hype about the new and improved LSU offense, the Tigers’ only touchdown that day in a loss to Wisconsin was scored by Tre’Davious White on a pick six.
In this opener, Miami has several advantages.
The Canes have their starting quarterback Malik Rosier back, along with 14 starters, total.
If Nick Brossette starts at running back, LSU, according to a depth chart released by the school, will start a total of 4 seniors.
The others are right guard Garrett Brumfield, tight end Foster Moreau, and safety John Battle.
The unknowns for LSU on offense are many.
Are the tandem of Brossette and Clyde Edwards-Helaire good enough to compete on a weekly basis in the Southeastern Conference?
Will the offensive line be good enough to deliver for a running game that Ed Orgeron promises will still be physical?
Will quarterback Joe Burrow be able to deliver the football to a talented but inexperienced receiving corp?
Much has been made over LSU not having one running back on the club with a rushing touchdown.
For a school that has produced Leonard Fournette, Derrius Guice, Joe Addai, and Aley Broussard it is a most telling stat.
Defense will carry the day for the Tigers.
The 2018 group may be one of the best in the school’s history.
Linebacker Devin White and cornerback Greedy Williams are both potential 2019 first round picks.
The defensive front seven is talented, and young.
LSU does not have a senior listed on its depth chart on either the defensive line or linebacker.
In scrimmages, observers have noted that the defense has made the offense look, at times, very bad.
This may be the best LSU defense since the 2011 squad that tore a swath thru the Southeastern Conference.
While there is pressure on LSU in the opener, there may be more on Miami.
In year three of Mark Richt, the expectation is that Miami will again be a national headliner.
The Canes started the 2017 season with 10 straight victories, before they fizzled in losses to Clemson, Pittsburgh, and Wisconsin.
The Canes were a perfect 7-0 at home, and its 7 wins in ACC play were the most in program history.
Miami lost its top two receivers, and much of the depth on its defensive line.
In previous years, LSU could send talented runners, behind a seasoned offensive line to exploit Miami’s lack of depth at the position.
But, the Tigers’ line and running backs are a 2018 question mark.
One of the best things about college football is its opening weekend.
Washington vs Auburn, Michigan vs Notre Dame, and Virginia Tech vs Florida State are all headliners.
And, so too, is Miami vs LSU.
Miami hasn’t won a national title since 2001. LSU’s last was 11 years ago.
Both outfits are itching to graduate out of the realm of good, to something much better.
Sunday night, either the Canes or the Tigers, will.